We all might be familiar with the name from the blue mountain-labeled Kokanee brews that have become British Columbia’s most popular beer—and due to close proximity a local favorite as well. But Kokanee are also the landlocked, freshwater form of sockeye salmon that populates Lake Pend Oreille. In the mid-1900s, Lake Pend Oreille was in fact home to the largest Kokanee fishery in the state of Idaho. The small, tasty species was food for larger species like Bull Trout and Rainbow Trout, leading to the production of trophy fish and even world records for Bull and Rainbow Trout taken out of Lake Pend Oreille.
In the late 1900s, however, Kokanee numbers had declined dramatically due to other food competition and the annual draining of the lake. Kokanee fishing was closed to anglers until 2013, when healthy levels returned. Today, plenty of Kokanee can still be found in the waters of Lake Pend Oreille, and trophy trout fishing is back, thanks to our tasty lil’ friends.